CHARLOTTETOWN, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, CANADA: Rachel Beach

By Cronin, Ray | Sculpture, November 2017 | Go to article overview

CHARLOTTETOWN, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, CANADA: Rachel Beach


Cronin, Ray, Sculpture


Confederation Centre of the Arts

Much discussion about the history of 20th-century sculpture has focused on its emergence from under the shadow of painting. With Minimalism's return to the object, the conversation with painting suddenly seemed irrelevant. Yet, as with so much in art, conversations never truly end, they evolve and spiral in new directions.

The work of Brooklyn artist Rachel Beach appears, at first glance, to be a manner of painting in threedimensional space. But her recent exhibition, "Mid-Sentence," which I first saw in Halifax at the Saint Mary's University Art Gallery, offered a conversation about paintings as objects, and the history it cited is, of necessity, more complex than the translation of Modernist ideas from two to three dimensions, a strategy that marked so much sculpture from the first half of the 20th century.

Beach thinks simultaneously in painterly and sculptural terms, which became clear in "Mid-Sentence" The works were arranged together on plinths of identical area (though of varying heights), usually in groups of two or more, evenly spaced in a familiar Modernist grid. Movement was integral to the experience of the works; as viewers navigated the grid, their changes of position created multiple, shifting viewpoints that denied stability. Beach's intent is to unsettle expectations of these objects as art (are they painting or sculpture?) and as objects in the world (how do they stand? …

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